In honor of today, I am going to write about my experience of the 2008 election while being overseas. Normally I am pretty engaging in politics. Yes, I am a fair weather fan and usually only jump on bandwagons like a year out, but that is still better then most people my age (or it was in the olden days). Take what you can get.
I completely missed the 2008 election. I left for New Zealand at the end of February, 2007 and didn’t return until March, 2009, well after the inauguration. While I hear it was a HUGE deal here and like people were dancing in the streets that first Tuesday in November, it was a huge deal overseas too. Not quite as crazy as the US, but still a big deal to people who had no say in the matter, which was a very interesting aspect to me. Everyone had such strong opinions yet they had no say! Unheard of in the US. If you can name one other head of power in even just one other country, you are a rarity. At Friday afternoon drinks at my job in New Zealand, almost every week, the conversation came around to the election at some point. And it was kind of fun being the center of attention when this topic would roll around!
I saw more Obama stickers on cars and people wearing t-shirts once I got to Australia. But still, it was kind of weird to me that a population was so into something that couldn’t participate in! Though to everyone who was wearing a shirt, I would always stop them and say I like your shirt. It was a pretty good conversation starter, especially when they would find out that I was actually American:-).
I was in Australia when the main event rolled around. I went rafting on election day and when we got back to base, the tv was turned to Sky News, where of course, it was election coverage all day. They weren’t declaring a winner at the moment and it was hard to tell what was going on, so I called my mom and she passed on the good news. While everyone said it was a landslide, I guess I am kind of jaded, especially after 2000 and don’t believe anything until it’s called (and even then, who can say). But when my mom told me what was up, it was time to celebrate! The group I rafted with bought me a beer in celebration! Being an American was FINALLY paying off!
The next day, I just hung out in Mission Beach and got online for the first time in a while. I tried to buy a SMH, but the town is so small that they only get two copies a day and of course, had sold out at this point, so I was stuck with the “local” paper of Cairns. Still, very interesting to be in a small town for this.
A few days later, when I was on my tour of Magnetic Island, when we all sat down to morning tea, the conversation came around to the election and since I was the only American, all questions came to me. One of the big ones was, do you think people overseas know more about American politics, then Americans? I had to say no on this. We might not know a lot about politics, but I have to assume we know more about ourselves then other people do!
When the inauguration came around in January of 2009, I was in Melbourne at this point. In my days of wondering around the city, on this day I wondered into The GPO on Bourke Street and I looked up and saw an American flag hanging over the balcony. Awesome! I went up to Octane Espresso cafe and started up a conversation with the owner as she was wearing a Gap t-shirt as well. We got to chatting and that spilled into free food and drink for me for the rest of the afternoon. SCORE! Plus some good conversation as well. A very interesting day.
Oh yeah, did I ever say that I didn’t even vote in this election? Whoops! I love voting and have taken part in nearly every single election I can since I turned 18 (minus maybe one or two local elections). But maybe I should start NOT voting as every time I have in the past, my person never wins. Superstitions anyone? I love voting. Back in day, we punched cards, but now we stamp in California. I even voted early once and used those computer-based terminals and they sucked. The kicker was it was a bunch of old people running the voting post and as we all know, old people know SHIT about electronic stuff. Not the best experience. I hope we don’t go that direction in the future. Too much can get fucked up, in my opinion.
Moral: Out of all elections, this one probably would have been the most fun to be at home for. It was still interesting to get another countries perspective of it. Also, everyone was so excited for change and promises and whatever and I don’t know if I just wasn’t here and that made a difference, or I am too jaded when it comes to this, but I was like, why is everyone getting so hyped it? Yes, it was different and interesting because of the people, but in what they are saying, nothing is going to change. Can we say, CALLED IT!!